Monday, 17 August 2015

The one year mark from Nantes, France!

Visit to the Cathedral in Nantes, France

It has been a few months since we have updated Nate’s blog and have captured some highlights below.  Nate is now at his one year mark where he was in Belgium for the first half of the year and has been in Nantes, France on the west coast for the past 5 months.  He continues to enjoy and embrace the experience serving others.

8th Transfer = 1 year!

Early in the week we fixed an appointment with this really nice guy whose name is Happy in English. He told us to meet him in the center of the city around 10am.  We soon came to realize that he is working,  handing out flyers and free little sim cards on the street. So he told us "Quick I am working so we have to go somewhere were my boss won’t find me.”  He is one of those guys who is everyone’s friend. He takes us on this little maze of streets and alleys until we get to this barber shop. It’s really an African hangout!  It was packed and we couldn't get in the door. It was kind of crazy with big wigs and people yelling and laughing and there we are, two little white kids. Side note -  we were also a crowd favorite because we had a tag on that said Jesus Christ. So we eventually are outside on the street and started teaching him when his boss walks down the street. We got out the prayer and like two sentences and he had to get back to work.  The bright side is we got like 3 phone numbers from other People while we were sitting there. We actually saw a member too. We got up after and left. We said goodbye 35 min later. Interesting start to the day. Just a little day in the life of a missionary!

We have been working hard this week looking at different ways to find people. I actually contacted three or four people this week by looking at them and smiling when we are waiting on the street for appts. They look at me so then I talk to them!  I bet they regret looking at me but I’ll talk to them if they do and a lot of people look at us.  On the metros we are looked at all of the time and it’s actually the best place to find people because they can’t go anywhere. One day this week we took our dinner break just contacting people on the trams because we weren't hungry. It’s interesting how mentality I have changed on my mission. At the beginning I motivated myself to find the will to talk to people all the time. But the more I have fun the more I want to do it and sometimes I wish we just worked on P-Day as well, you stay focused all the time. 

German built submarine bunker in the Harbor - Nantes, France

We had the opportunity to meet with this young adult in the ward. He is the only member in his family and is a convert of 5 years. He is seriously considering going on a we were mission. So we said we would meet with him and help him prepare. It was a cool realization while talking to him about how my mission has changed me. How I have grown closer to Heavenly Father and his gospel.  The decision of serving a mission was the best I had ever made in my life.  Getting rid of the distractions of the world helps you to focus on the important blessings you have as well as how you can help others have this same happiness. It was pretty hard to summarize the magnitude and effect a mission has had on me but it was a super cool time we had to talk with him and we are going to start meeting with him once a week to study preach my gospel and start his papers. 

I had the cool experience of going on an exchange with my trainer Elder Bailey. He is actually my zone leader now and he came to a district meeting in Nantes. He ended up just staying for the day and working with me in Nantes. It was such a cool experience to work with him again because we lived and worked together for 5 months. You have a special relationship with your trainer. It was amazing to see how much we had both have grown and talked about how we were thankful to be together and all the things that we learned from each other.

I had a couple really cool experiences in the past two weeks. One of them was while we were out on the coast. We prepared all our stuff in the morning to go and headed out and I got a bunch of Book of Mormons and stuff that we needed and we left. For some reason I brought an English Book of Mormon and I never do that.  We visited less actives and members and taught lessons on the street all day and was a really amazing. I got to give out two Books of Mormons which does not happen too often and by the end of the day we were so tired. I still had this English book with me and wasn’t sure why I had it. Then on the metro we were contacting and almost at home and I started talking to this guy who ended up speaking English. He was so cool and super interested. BY CHANCE he wanted a Book of Mormon after I taught him about it and I had one to give!  I didn’t find out until  9 o’clock why I had it. Pretty cool little Miracle and funny enough I finished the book the same week. It was reaffirming to my testimony of how this book that has changed my life.

Cathedral - Nantes
We also found a new Family this week! A small family from Ghana. Moses and his wife and three little kids. It was so cool. We taught the restoration to them and they understood it really well. We teach that so much and I never get tired of it. Reciting the first vision is so refreshing. I thought about if I was repeating a couple sentences normally over and over and over how boring it would be. When you recite the first vision there is power in the words, we recite it a lot. The words invoke the spirit and something special in you and others. It is special. I feel the confirmation of this so often and I know that the people that we teach feel it because it is a promise of the spirit. It will always bear testimony of the truth.
We are having a lot of fun and a lot of success here in Nantes the Lord is really blessing us and helping us in every aspect of our work. Although we did get approached/yelled at like 15 times in one day. I think that was a record, one drunk homeless men tried to take my badge this week. Had to give him a little nudge. All in the life.

Streets of Nantes

We were at a metro stop with a less active member that we were walking home from church with. He is from Togo but when he was 18 he came to Europe to play for the professional Berlin soccer team. He played for 15 years and was amazing and all of a sudden he had a stroke and half of his body got paralyzed. Long story short he ended up in France, Nantes more specifically. He met the missionaries here and got baptized. He walks really slow with a cane and that is why we were walking him home. We were just doing a simple act of service. So like I said, we were at this stop and this women walks up to us and says hello. It ended up that is was a girl that lived in the same building as Koffi. She saw us and our badges and asked who we were. She ended up being Christian and said she was looking for a church. Without even asking her she said. Ok I will come to church and pray with you guys on Sunday. I will pick up my neighbor Koffi and bring him. So sure enough this lady has come to church two weeks in a row and she loves it. It was after 5 weeks of not having someone there that you get a blessing like that which is pretty special. We just happened to be doing the right thing at the right time. I know and have learned if we do that we will be blessed. We have now had like 3 people there the past week or two!

The second experience I had is somewhat similar. This week was an amazing week. I had received news that a Boy that I taught for the first 6 months of my mission got baptized. We put in so much time, effort and love into this family. Going there twice or three times a week. This family was inactive for 30 YEARS and had lost hope. The problems that they had to overcome were immense and they felt like there was no possibility of changing. I prayed every day for this family as well for myself to see them as Heavenly Father sees them and the potential they have and how cherished they are. The joy is so unexplainable to see how through the atonement of Jesus-Christ they changed. They are new people. They have started fresh in working to be an eternal family forever, the greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has given us. I love these people because I care about them. They are so amazing and I will never forget the special experiences I had with them. These people have changed who I am and I am eternally grateful for that. I know that this joy did not come right away but as we continued to do what we knew the Lord would have us do we were blessed and so was this family! Love you guys hope you have an amazing week!
The second day we had it we deciding to do some contacting in the park. A really nice park in a nice part of Nantes. We saw this maybe 70 year old lady sitting on a bench. We approached her and asked if we could sit down and show her a video about a man that had changed our lives. We showed her a video about Jesus Christ called "Because of him" the impact was amazing  We got to sit down for 20 minutes and talk to this women that would of normally not of been too interested. We testified of our Savior and his atoning sacrifice. How much the Lord loves us, giving his son so that we can return and live with him after this life. This lady was blown away and was so happy she had the chance to talk with us. She was touched and really respected us for what we do and how we try to help people. For me it was a little experience and miracle of how the lord prepares both people and the world we live in for great things to come to pass. This happened several times this week. I feel extremely lucky and blessed to be able to use this extraordinary tool in missionary work. 

Elder Carson and Elder McBride

I would like to share a modern-day parable that I will call “The Parable of the Oranges.” As you listen, consider what this story teaches you about the power of real intent.

There was a young man who had ambitions to work for a company because it paid very well and was very prestigious. He prepared his résumé and had several interviews. Eventually, he was given an entry-level position. Then he turned his ambition to his next goal—a supervisor position that would afford him even greater prestige and more pay. So he completed the tasks he was given. He came in early some mornings and stayed late so the boss would see him putting in long hours.
After five years a supervisor position became available. But, to the young man’s great dismay, another employee, who had only worked for the company for six months, was given the promotion. The young man was very angry, and he went to his boss and demanded an explanation.
The wise boss said, “Before I answer your questions, would you do a favor for me?”
“Yes, sure,” said the employee.
“Would you go to the store and buy some oranges? My wife needs them.”
The young man agreed and went to the store. When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”
“I don’t know,” the young man answered. “You just said to buy oranges, and these are oranges. Here they are.”
“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.
“Well, I’m not sure,” was the reply. “You gave me $30. Here is your receipt, and here is your change.”
“Thank you,” said the boss. “Now, please have a seat and pay careful attention.”
Then the boss called in the employee who had received the promotion and asked him to do the same job. He readily agreed and went to the store.
When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”
“Well,” he replied, “the store had many varieties—there were navel oranges, Valencia oranges, blood oranges, tangerines, and many others, and I didn’t know which kind to buy. But I remembered you said your wife needed the oranges, so I called her. She said she was having a party and that she was going to make orange juice. So I asked the grocer which of all these oranges would make the best orange juice. He said the Valencia orange was full of very sweet juice, so that’s what I bought. I dropped them by your home on my way back to the office. Your wife was very pleased.”
“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.
“Well, that was another problem. I didn’t know how many to buy, so I once again called your wife and asked her how many guests she was expecting. She said 20. I asked the grocer how many oranges would be needed to make juice for 20 people, and it was a lot. So, I asked the grocer if he could give me a quantity discount, and he did! These oranges normally cost 75 cents each, but I paid only 50 cents. Here is your change and the receipt.”
The boss smiled and said, “Thank you; you may go.”
He looked over at the young man who had been watching. The young man stood up, slumped his shoulders and said, “I see what you mean,” as he walked dejectedly out of the office.
What was the difference between these two young men? They were both asked to buy oranges, and they did. You might say that one went the extra mile, or one was more efficient, or one paid more attention to detail. But the most important difference had to do with real intent rather than just going through the motions. The first young man was motivated by money, position, and prestige. The second young man was driven by an intense desire to please his employer and an inner commitment to be the best employee he could possibly be—and the outcome was obvious.

How can you apply this parable in your lives? How might your efforts in your family, at school, at work, and in the Church be different if you always sought to please God and do His will, motivated by your love for Him?"

Elder Carson and I had some interesting experiences this week. We were trying our hardest to find and teach people. We were getting yelled at and stared at all day and getting rejected. All the appointments we had were falling through. We really didn't know what to do. So after dinner we had 2 hours to work and I was praying all day that it would turn around. We decided that we were going to go and knock on some houses and we had no idea where to go so we offered a prayer and simply asked for help. Ten minutes later in the first building we went into, a young Muslim family lets us in and we taught them about Christ and testified of his realness and divinity as the son of God and it was a special moment in which, I felt the spirit very strongly.  So we moved on with the night to another building and got let in and taught some African men. Then we contacted some people on the way home that were interested. We found 4 new people and taught 3 lessons in the span of 2 hours. An testimony of the Lord’s hand leading and guiding our work.

This week we had a couple special experiences with a kid who's name is Dejince who is 11 years old. His family is less active but the few times we have talked to him at church he has expressed a large desire to be baptized. So we went to his house to teach him this week and we taught him the plan of salvation with this little puzzle. There is nothing more priceless when an 11 year old kid bears his testimony of the desire he has to go to the celestial kingdom with his family. He said that he just wants to be happy and feel the spirit but he doesn't know how. He has such a desire to know God but is a little bit lost. We taught him how he can pray and receive an answer from the spirit. He was so thrilled knowing that its possible. He kept on saying “OH OH I REALLY WANT GOD TO RESPOND I HOPE HE DOES!” So funny. The spiritual light and motivation in this kid has is unbelievable. He knows that God has created a plan for him and he is going to do anything he can fulfill it. His circumstances are not the easiest with 4 little brothers that he has to babysit a lot because his parents work. I have a ton of faith that he will be an amazing disciple of Christ. His will is so strong.

Coast of France
Rarely people find this spiritual light from God waiting in the darkness. It takes an act of faith for us to arise and act on whatever little sign God is giving us. He often nurtures the questioning soul giving them what he knows they need. It was so refreshing being able to teach this wonderful kid this week because a lot of the people here don't see the darkness around them. They don't know that they are in need of the necessary rescue and relief that comes from the Savior. I have come to love the people here in France and have realized that our biggest mission is finding these prepared souls who have acted on a small particle of faith. That's the goal every week!

We had a lesson with a man Named Sergi this week who is Muslim and most days we talk with more Muslim people than Christians. They are very difficult to teach as they are very firm in what they believe.  We had been meeting with him for a couple months on and off and this RDV we taught the gospel of Jesus Christ with the key point of Jesus being the Son of God accomplishing the atonement (they don’t believe that). I was able to testify of the special nature of Jesus Christ and that his atoning sacrifice was real. That he is the only person that can forgive when others can’t. That I know that his love and pardon is real, and that we all have the possibility to change and become someone better through him. That he lives today. That this was not something I was born with. It was something that I asked God to know. That if I didn't know it was true with all my heart I wouldn't be here. Why would I waste my time? Leaving everything I have for two years. He was taken back and thinking about what I said and the spirit that was touching him which I felt the spirit overwhelmingly during the lesson. The way the spirit works is that is just doesn't come for the sake of comforting myself or my companion but testifies of the truth to our investigator. We are just there and so happen to be lucky to feel it as well. He then went on explaining that during the last lessons including this most recent he was asking himself questions like what if this is true? What does that change?  Already this is monumental for him to be thinking like that. It is not an option to convert to another religion if you are Muslim.  We boldly invited him to ask God to show him the truth because if he does we know that he will receive an answer. He accepted for the first time in weeks and I was pretty surprised but very happy and will see what happens. Side note: the love that you acquire for the people you teach is immense. As well as sharing and celebrating the small victories in France. 

We met a younger mother with 2 little boys this week and she is so nice. We met on the street a couple weeks ago but never had the time to fix another appt. So this week finally got to go over with this other oung adult in the ward and teach them. It was such an amazing lesson and we felt like we should teach the Plan of salvation so we did. She opened up about how she had a lot of trials in her life with an abusive husband and having to flee to the other side of France to get away. She was so loving and grateful for what she has and also had a really hard life growing up in West Africa. She knows that it is all thanks to God that she is where she is right now with her family and she loved the Plan of Salvation and found it so much clearer than other teachings. After the lesson she explained more about her son’s birthday on Monday and that because her husband goes out and spends all their money on beer and other terrible things she has nothing to give him. I thought for a second about how lucky I was. How there are little kids on their birthday that wake up with nothing. I was devastated. How could that be fair? Earlier today I went to this soccer store and picked up a soccer ball. Something as small as that, I am sure will make him smile. This 6 year old kid that has nothing. It is amazing the different ways that you can feel the love of our Heavenly Father for you and for all of his children. How he cares for every single one of us.  We are going to work over in their Cartier and drop that off tonight. Should be fun! 

Last week we had an appt that was pretty far away and the guy confirmed and said it was good but long story short he never came. So we were kind of bummed and we ended up contacting as we were already there. We contacted  3 people because that is all we had the time for and one of them was this African lady sitting in the park with one of her kids sleeping on her shoulder. We talked with her and took her number and headed home. We called her this week and were lucky to meet with her. Personally I really had no idea what to expect, where she lived, what she was like or what we were even going to talk about. We started talking about how she believes in God and how she has seen his hand in her life. Immediately following she went on talking about how she know God. She explained that she grew up in central Africa. She experienced things in her life growing up in this country that others could not even imagine. She regularly saw dead bodies in her neighborhood, people sick and hungry. She then explained that when she was younger that a mob/army raided her village and her sister was killed in front of her. She saw and experienced things unbelievably difficult and lost everything as well as her family. Right now she has two kids and a husband, a small little amazing family given to her by God. She knows that by his grace she is still alive. She expressed that she didn’t know why she was still here on earth and what her purpose was. We then taught her the plan of salvation, the perfect plan that gives us the chance to know why? Why this? Why that? Why now?  It answers all possible questions and she loved it and said she would love to come to church. I am so thankful that I have the ability to meet all kinds of God's children. It is amazing the vast extents of this world that God has created for us. Often we don’t understand why jobs and countries and freedoms vary so much. That is why it is so crucially essential to know that God loves you and has created a perfect plan for you; That he gave his only begotten son as a gift and the steps to return and live with him after we are done in this crazy life. 

Nate and his trainer Elder Bailey who was his Zone Leader at this time

 After church we went with the sisters to pass over an ami that we had found and taught a couple times. She had a very interesting story scattered with unbelievable trials as well.  It was the second time we taught her and we were going to finish the Plan of Salvation. We started the lesson with a hymn which is never a bad idea when you teach with sisters ha-ha. We went on with the prayer and taught the lesson and she took everything really well and was very intrigued. Near the end of the lesson we had a puzzle of the plan out on the table and we got to the celestial kingdom explaining that this is the only place that we can live with our family for eternity, in a state of never ending happiness. She thought about that and started to break down and cry. She explained there was no greater desire than to live with her family together forever. She said that she knew without a doubt that the plan was true and that it had a familiar ring to it. Like she already knew that it was right even though it was the first time(in this life). Funny how people say that. Like they already excepted the plan or something?  She said that she would like to be baptized after she has learned all that she needs to. So that was a big step. 

Right after that appt the sisters said there was an older less active women that lived nearby. We decided that we should go and sing for her. She was there and opened up the door. let us In and we began to sing. We sang Scattered Sunshine which is 10 times better in French and she said that it literally healed her soul. As we were leaving almost out the door I told her if there is anything she ever needs from us to call us. She all of a sudden broke down and thanked us for what we do. She asked for a blessing so I gave her a blessing. She was so thankful that we were able to fill her home with the spirit and as we left she couldn't contain her smile. Plus she gave us a cold juice box on the way out. Bonus. Older Ladies are so nice. 

6th Transfer!

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